The Largest Organ of the Bee Colony — Construction and Function of the Comb



Properties of the comb are integral components of the superorganism that contribute to the sociophysiology of the bee colony.

The nest of honeybees plays a key role as the visible expression of the bee colony superorganism. Its significance for the function of bee colony is far deeper than that which comes to mind for nests in general, i.e., a shelter constructed out of materials from the environment. The comb of the bee nest is in a sense a part of the bees themselves. Even the expression that the comb is a “frozen image of bee behavior” does not completely capture the situation. The footsteps of gulls in the smooth sand of the seashore are also frozen images of behavior. These footsteps, however, have no further consequences for a gull’s life, unless they attract predators. The honeycomb as the “spoor of bees”, on the other hand, determines the nature and life of bees.


Royal Jelly Waggle Dance Brood Comb Brood Nest Dance Follower 
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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2008

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